The Primary Days: End Of Summer Angst

23/07/2013 16:35 | Updated 22 May 2015

The Primary Days: End of summer angstAlamy

When Betty broke up from school at the end of July, it felt like the summer holidays would last forever - six glorious weeks stretched out in front of us. No organisation or rigid routines, no having to think about packed lunches, no last minute costumes to make, no forms to sign, no uniform to iron, and no early morning mayhem and shouting, trying to get the kids out of the front door.

Apart from my own regular 6am starts (the only time I get to work during the holidays) it has been absolute bliss.

We have camped, been to festivals, picnicked, caught up with friends, and lazily drifted our way through August. I didn't even really watch the Olympics, but I enjoyed basking in the temporary good mood that affected our miserable country for that fortnight.

But suddenly we are nearing the end of the holidays, and there is a definite sinking feeling in our household - as there probably is in households up and down the country. With just one week to go, we have to start thinking about school again.

Despite my pledges to lose a stone over the summer holidays, read Biff and Chip books with Betty every day, and gain an all-over tan, I have to admit that the last few weeks have been almost completely indulgent and unproductive.

It's not just the re-instatement of the semi-military routine of school life that is a gruesome contrast to the last few carefree weeks. The whole experience is also stirring up long-repressed end-of-summer-holidays-blues from when I was a child.

What initially triggered this large inward groan were all the 'back to school' signs in all the shop windows, which took me right back to when I was at school - I hated it. This time I'm on the other end of the experience, and I'm the mother dragging the small child around the shops.

So I'll be standing in a packed shoe shop, along with all the other frazzled parents, buying black shoes, identical to the last pair because that's all they've got to offer, but just one size bigger than the ones before.

I'll be in a supermarket trying to decide whether or not to allow Betty to choose her own (horrible) lunch box or to make the decision for her and buy something tasteful yet functional.

I'll be trying to convince Betty that a sensible haircut is a good idea. And that dark blue tights are the best colour, and that she wouldn't really like wearing rainbow-coloured tights.

I'll be starting to brush my hair again and I'll be trying a bit harder with my appearance and the weight loss programme.

Having been so blasé for nearly a couple of months now, it feels distinctly unnatural to imagine myself once again standing in the school car park giving the impression of being a functional human being.

And then there's poor old Betty, who is going to get a rude awakening when she goes back into the school routine. Without the benefit of experience, and a few days' mental preparation for yet another autumn term, with its grey skies and low mood, she's going to have a bit of a shock to the system.

It's hard enough leaving the beach with Betty - I have no idea what she's going to be like leaving the entire holiday period. She develops an unbreakable attachment to anywhere we've been for more than 24 hours.

So, in short, I'm not looking forward to the next week or so. However, all the angst and stress may be balanced out by the fact that my husband and I will have the house to ourselves for two and a half days a week, once more. And we will actually be able to get things done, while, at school, my daughter dreams of sitting in a rock pool and looking out at the waves.

Do you agree with Elsie, or are you looking forward to your kids going back to school?

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